For the first time in a couple of months (thanks COVID), I found myself meandering in Minneapolis on my way to a show. While I was slightly disappointed that August Burns Red got moved to Varsity Theater, the more I thought about it, the more content I was to see one of my favorite bands back in a more intimate setting. Even though I should have spent my Tuesday evening doing what I could to get ready for a work retreat this weekend, I couldn’t miss a chance to see August Burns Red. Their Through The Thorns Tour was on the last stretch, the veterans bringing along a metalcore group of bands that was sure to bring a bright light to an otherwise uneventful Tuesday.
First up for the night was Void of Vision. This was the first of two bands that I knew nothing about and hadn’t had a chance to dive into their music, my go to way to be exposed to new artists. The Melbourne based metal band took the stage promptly at 6:15 p.m., kicking the night of metalcore off. Wasting no time to start things off right, the four piece got to work into their short set. Not shy to show appreciation and gratitude for being on the tour and playing in a different country, Void of Vision blasted through their short set with big riffs, bigger screams, and huge charisma from frontman Jack Bergin. It didn’t take much to get the middle of the crowd jumping along and opening up a circle pit, warming up the crowd for the rest of the night.
Up next was the second new band to me: Hollow Front. This Michigan based band came on stage and cranked up the energy. Reminding me a little of Minnesota’s In Search of Solace, Hollow Front brought a little familiar Midwest charm to their set; it was incredibly easy for the band to get the crowd going, their music dominating Varsity Theater like a hometown headlining set. While the mosh pit settled down a little during their set, the crowd moved to head banging and jumping during some of the breakdowns, cheering loud and proud between each song. Hollow Front knew how to bring the heat for each song, the band never seeming to tire out while giving their all for every moment on stage.
The penultimate band of the night, We Came As Romans came on a little earlier than scheduled and truly escalated the evening. It had been awhile since I have seen this band live, but their direct support slot felt like a headlining show. The energy from the packed crowd was somehow more than what the band emitted on stage, members of the crowd savoring each moment We Came As Romans was on stage. Throwing in a couple of older songs (“Hope,” and “Tracing Back Roots”) in with a lot of newer (to me) material, a short moment for Dave Stephens in the crowd, and an homage to their late clean singer Kyle Pavone, We Came As Romans made their set impactful and memorable. There was not a quiet moment from the crowd during their set, setting the bar high for the headliners.
I’ve lost count of how many times and in how many different states I’ve been able to catch August Burns Red. I just know that when they come through wherever I am, I can’t miss them. When they came on stage, a wave of familiarity hit me along with so many others in the crowd, the band instantly making the Varsity Theater light up and the strangers in the crowd feel like a community. There’s not really a better way to describe August Burns Red’s set other than blissful mayhem; from the first notes of “Chop Suey” ringing through the speakers and fading away as the band came on stage to fill in for the rest of the cover, to each and every song, there was cathartic chaos. Classic August Burns Red songs (“Back Burner,” “Meddler,” “Marianas Trench”) got the same crowd response as newer songs (“Paramount,” “Dismembered Memory,” “Bloodletter”): constant crowd surfing, moshing, head banging, and fans screaming along. One of the best parts of their set that truly showcases the insane amount of talent this band has, is when members switch instruments around. My favorite was during “Bloodletter” when bassist Dustin Davidson switched his bass for a guitar and knocked the lead guitar parts and solo out of the park. There wasn’t a dull moment in this set and not enough positive praise to give this band; August Burns Red truly is a consistent well oiled machine that always puts on an incredible show.